A young, ambitious and successful football coach who never smiles – it doesn’t sound right. But that was the case with Shaun Norman. Tooth and jaw alignment problems meant that both his facial appearance and oral function were not as good as they should have been. After enduring the discomfort for years, he came to us in July 2016 wondering if we could help. Two things in particular were playing on his mind.A young, ambitious and successful football coach who never smiles – it doesn’t sound right. But that was the case with Shaun Norman.
Tooth and jaw alignment problems meant that both his facial appearance and oral function were not as good as they should have been. After enduring the discomfort for years, he came to us in July 2016 wondering if we could help. Two things in particular were playing on his mind.“First of all, the underbite, and, I guess, how crooked my teeth are at the top. Those are the two things I’d love to be fixed,” Shaun said in his first visit.
From that initial consultation, Principal Dentist at Advanced Dental Artistry Dr Adrian Kat knew his team could get Shaun smiling again. “He was 22-years-old and a very determined guy,” Dr Kat says. “His upper teeth were crowded and unaligned, but, more important than that, his lower teeth were in front of the upper teeth. ”Dr Kat says Shaun’s underbite was partly due to a developmental problem with his jaw. Further, during a football game when Shaun was 16 he was struck in the head with such force that his jawbone broke in two places. The injury made the underbite worse and also gave him chronic problems with his temporomandibular joints – where the jawbone connects to the skull. For 6 years he put up with the discomfort before deciding enough was enough. “It was a daily ritual to wake up and crack my jaw, it was during the night as well,” Shaun says. “I was noticing that even just yawning or something like that and there was that, not pain, but It would just be uncomfortable and I felt I had to crack it to relieve it.”
Since his underbite began to become more apparent around age 13, Shaun also smiled less and less. It got to the point that many of his friends never seen him grin. “Smiling has always been an issue for me since my teenage years. I am open about it: I don’t like smiling, I don’t like photos, I don’t like anything like that,” he says. “Because there are so many people now who have gone and got treatment or who had braces as a youngster and I was never the one to do that, so it has definitely been touchy point for me sometimes. “I guess that is why I have been so eager to get started on this.”
Dr Kat says Shaun’s case also illustrates the two ways to fix an underbite:
1. Orthodontic treatment, often involving jaw surgery
2. Porcelain veneers to improve the bite, followed by cosmetic treatment to improve appearance. Dr Kat says Shaun’s underbite was an ideal case for the less-invasive second option.“Very early on, we used a ‘trial smile’ on Shaun to make sure the end result was going to be perfect,” Dr Kats says.“We then used minor orthodontics to realign the teeth to minimise the cosmetic treatment. “Then we did cosmetic treatment on his front teeth to realign his smile and build up his back teeth to improve his bite.”
The process from initial consult to new smile was not an overnight success. During the time when Shaun was fitted with orthodontics that gradually realigned his teeth, the Advanced Dental Artistry team spent a lot of time planning for the cosmetic phase of the treatment. Shaun himself visited the Advanced Dental Artistry clinic several times for progress checks. He soon found that as the orthodontics repositioned his teeth, his persistent jaw complaints began to go away.
In February of 2017, seven months after commencing treatment, the cosmetic dentistry aspect of Shaun’s treatment was also completed. Now, not only did he have a great new smile, he could sleep, yawn and eat without discomfort.“It has been a massive change in the past few months to go from what it was like to now with my teeth biting together,” Shaun says.“All my mates were just looking at my teeth and then I ended up telling them and word got around really quickly.“The thing is, I was smiling and no one’s ever really seen me smiling. Now there are plenty of reasons to be happy!”
Published on December 5th 2017, last reviewed on February 10th 2020
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